SOURCE: Christianity Today
July 24, 1725: John Newton, author of "Amazing Grace" and other hymns, is born in London. Converted to Christianity while working on a slave ship, he hoped as a Christian to restrain the worst excesses of the slave trade, "promoting the life of God in the soul" of both his crew and his African cargo. In 1764 he became an Anglican minister and each week wrote a hymn to be sung to a familiar tune. In 1787 Newton wrote Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade to help William Wilberforce's campaign to end the slave trade (see issue 31: The Golden Age of Hymns).
July 25, 325: The Council of Nicea closes. The first ecumenical council, convened by Constantine, it rejected the Arians (who denied the full divinity of Christ) as heretics (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).
July 25, 1593: King Henry IV of France, raised a Protestant, converts to Catholicism. Long considered a political move, the conversion is now thought to have been sincere, partially because of the king's statement that "religion is not changed as easily as a shirt." His conversion did not end his sympathy for Protestants, however, and in 1598 he promulgated the Edict of Nantes, giving Protestants freedom of worship and permitting them to garrison certain towns for security (see issue 71: Huguenots).
July 25, 1918: Walter Rauschenbusch, Bapstist pastor and theologian of the Social Gospel, dies. His books, including Christianity and the Social Crisis and The Social Principles of Jesus, influenced many—among them Martin Luther King, Jr., who observed that "Rauschenbusch gave to American Protestantism a sense of social responsibility that it should never lose.
July 26, 1603: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England. Among his many acts affecting English religious life (it is he for whom the King James Version is named) was the issuing of the Book of Sports, approving sports on SunDay .
July 26, 1833: Having abolished the slave trade in 1807, Britain's House of Commons bans slavery itself. When William Wilberforce, who had spent most of his life crusading against slavery, heard the news, he said, "Thank God I have lived to witness [this] Day ." He died three Day s later (see issue 53: William Wilberforce).
July 26, 1869: England's Disestablishment Bill is passed, officially dissolving the Church of Ireland. It is from this act that we get the mighty word "antidisestablishmentarianism," which was the organized opposition to the legislation.
July 26, 1925: William Jennings Bryan, American editor, politician, and anti-evolutionary leader, dies five Day s after being publicly ridiculed for his role in the Scopes "Monkey" trial (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and the Rise of Fundamentalism).
July 27, 1681: During a bitter battle between Scottish Episcopalians and Presbyterians, five Presbyterian preachers are martyred in Edinburgh. The Church of Scotland became Presbyterian permanently in 1690.
July 28, 1148: Too weak to retake Edessa from the Muslims, the armies of the Second Crusade beseige Damascus. They blundered and were forced to retreat within five Day s. Believers throughout Christendom were shocked and devastated that a crusade preached by a moral exemplar (Bernard of Clairvaux) and led by royalty (King Louis VII of France and Emperor Conrad III of Germany) would fail (see issue 40: The Crusades).
July 29, 1030: Viking king Olaf Haraldsson, patron saint of Norway, dies in the battle of Stiklestad. Though limited in his ability to force his countrymen to convert during his reign, his death was later hailed as a miracle-filled martyrdom and, as his legend grew, it spurred on christiansd converting the country. In time, Olaf became one of the most well-known saints of medieval Christendom, and his relics in Norway became one of Europe's most popular pilgrimage destinations (see issue 63: Conversion of the Vikings).
July 29, 1794: In a converted blacksmith's shop in Philadelphia, former slave Richard Allen assembles a group of black Christians who had faced discrimination in the local Methodist Episcopal Church. They formed the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the mother church of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, now known throughout the world (see issue 62: Bound for Canaan).
July 29, 1833: English abolitionist William Wilberforce dies a mere three days after England abolishes slavery (see issue 53: William Wilberforce).
July 29, 1968: Pope Paul VI publishes his encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which condemns artificial birth control methods.
July 30, 1718: William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania as a colony for Quakers to enjoy religious liberty, dies.
July 30, 1775: The U.S. Army founds its chaplaincy, making it the Army's oldest division after the infantry.
July 30, 1956: In God We Trust becomes the official motto of the United States by an act of Congress signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (see the U.S. Treasury website).